Fewer Cars On The Road Improving Valley's Air Quality

Los Angeles Among Cities With Best Air Quality Now

Mitch Kelly
April 07, 2020 - 6:09 am
Aerial view looking straight down on to Los Angeles' city streets.

Matt Gush/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NV (KXNT) - As the nation and world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Clark County vehicle traffic has been greatly reduced. With the resort corridor shut down and many locals complying with Governor Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order, Las Vegas traffic is noticeably less crowded.

Is that reduction in vehicle emissions having an impact on air quality?

Recent data gathered by the County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability indicate less overall pollutant emissions in the region, with much of it likely due to fewer vehicles on the roads.

“We are seeing reductions in small particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) when you compare data from the first half of March to the second half,” said Environment and Sustainability meteorologist Paul Fransioli. “Data shows about a one-third decrease in those pollutants from February to March.”

According to the EPA, air pollution emitted from the transportation sector (cars, trucks, commercial aircraft and railroads) contributes to smog and poor air quality. Pollutants that contribute to poor air quality include particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

Though more study is required to determine how much impact the reduced vehicle traffic is having on the pollutants in the air, DES officials believe these results are consistent with similar air quality findings around the country. And, Fransioli points out, weather patterns were consistent throughout the period. What does this mean for the region’s overall air quality?

“It’s too early to tell how much impact this will have on ozone this summer. We know for a fact that Clark County’s air quality has been good and improving since before the stay-at-home order,” Fransioli said. “With the exception of wildfire summers, our air quality has steadily improved over the past 15 years or so.”